You can read all about the winning entries here. And you can watch actor Sam Johnson reading my entry aloud (!!) here:
Or if you’d prefer to read it for yourself, here it is…
by R L Holland
The messages came through thick and fast, her phone chiming her awake.
‘Saw your status update- good for you!’
A series of question marks:
She had no idea, either.
What status update? She hadn’t been online for weeks. Holed up, as she was in the middle of nowhere. It was a miracle that the messages had made it through.
There must be a patch of signal out there somewhere. She pressed a hand to the cold glass and peered into the night.
She found an oil lamp under the sink in the spartan kitchen, and rubber boots in the draughty hall. She pulled a flimsy cagoule over her pyjamas, and she was ready. The door clicked shut behind her, and she trudged along the darkened track, her phone aloft.
Searching…it said. The sea murmured at the cliffs below. Finally- a flicker of a bar.
She tapped the screen impatiently, until a sentence illuminated the night.
‘I’m ready for a change- my new life begins tomorrow!’
Her own face stared back, unblinking. It was an old photo, but she loved it. The silly hat, her expression- it was so her. But it wasn’t her. She hadn’t written that.
She checked the time stamp- one hour ago. She’d been sleeping. Yet another evening where she’d dozed off, notepad in hand, pen behind her ear. Maybe she’d been hacked? She checked the location of the status, turning warily towards the house as she did, her eyes straining in the dark.
But she was the only person for miles around. That had been part of the allure- nothing, and no-one to interrupt her. She looked down at the phone in her hand. A mistake, that’s all. She would delete it, explain later.
A cracking twig underfoot, and a gull wheeling overhead. Her throat leapt into her mouth, and she stumbled. The wire fence caught her, a spray of pebbles crashing into the water below.
And in the bedroom window, a silhouette. A hand, pressed against the glass.
Impossible, she shook her head. The effect was dizzying. Her phone vibrated to life in her palm, and she almost dropped it into the mud, sweating, swearing.
“Hello?” Her voice sounded alien in the thick, black night.
She felt the ground shift beneath her, heard the roar of blood in her ears, the roar of the ocean below. She grasped the fence for purchase, the wire biting into her skin.
“Who are you?” But the screen was blank. Her phone, dead.
“It’s my life!” She screamed the words over the crashing spray. “You can’t have it!”
She stumbled, the boots too big, the ground too wet.
“No, it’s mine.”
She whirled to see who had spoken. Losing her grip on the fence, on reality. Her back hit the ground with a slap. Her mind spun.
“I’m ready for a change- my new life begins tomorrow,” she whispered to the stars. She closed her eyes, and felt the world slip away.